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Auto blogWed, 06 Mar 2013 06:00:00 EST
If you thought there was nothing wrong with the Volkswagen Up! that a little body cladding wouldn't fix, you're in luck. VW has officially pulled the wraps off the production version of the Cross Up!, and its wheel arches and rocker panels are full of the black plastic cladding you've been yearning for.
In addition to the "particularly rugged design and tough, lifestyle qualities" that the cladding exudes, VeeDub has also seen fit to put its Cross Up! on a new set of 16-inch alloy wheels clad in 185/50-series tires. Inside, there are new kick plates to go along with a dash pad that can be had in red, black or silver.
All that cladding must equal additional off-road readiness, right? Well, sure... just so long as you're fine with the same 75-horsepower three-cylinder engine that all other Up! models also feature, along with a five-speed manual transmission sending power to the front wheels, again, just like all other Up! models. The Cross Up! appears to have a taller ride height than other models, but we haven't been able to find out what - if any - changes have been made.
In case you didn't know, Volkswagen is hell-bent on becoming the largest automaker in the world. The German carmaker has inched closer to that goal, having outsold General Motors in China last quarter for the first time in eight years.
Volkswagen's sales in China, its largest marker, increased by 21 percent last quarter to 704,991 units. Those numbers almost tripled GM's third-quarter growth, and were enough to beat out the American automaker's 664,765 sales. GM, however, still leads in year-to-date sales in China by a slim margin of around 77,000 units. The Asian nation also happens to be GM's largest market, and according to the report in Automotive News, China's car market may grow to be larger than the US, Japan and Germany combined in three years' time.
About the news his company was bested in China by VW last quarter, GM CEO Dan Akerson is quoted saying, "It's not whether you're the biggest car manufacturer. It's whether you want to be the most profitable." It should be noted of these figures that GM includes truck figures, yet excludes Hong Kong and Macau from its Chinese sales numbers, while VW does just the opposite. Through September of this year, Volkswagen had 5 of the 10 best selling vehicles in China. GM boasted three of the cars on that list.
Chrysler has slowed production of its Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans this week, Automotive News reports. The Windsor, Ontario plant will cut its three shifts from eight hours each to four hours each in an effort "to align production with market demand," a Chrysler spokesperson told AN. Chrysler also builds the closely related Routan minivan for Volkswagen at its Ontario facility, but has not built a single example thus far in 2013.
Sales of Chrysler's minivans fell 15 percent for the first two months of 2013, and a large part of that has to do with the 26-percent drop of the Grand Caravan alone (the T&C was only down by one percent). According to Automotive News data, as of March 1, Chrysler had an unsold inventory of 24,713 Town and Country models and 18,547 Grand Caravans - a 69- and 43-day supply, respectively.
"No sense running full speed now, then have a lot of vehicles sitting around a few months down the line," Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson told AN. Full production is expected to resume again on March 18.